John and I had a Falling-Out, Part 2

Hi, Girlfriends and Guy friends. After enduring twenty hours stranded on the side of the road, AireInn was finally being towed!

That was the good news.

But our new reality was this; it was a twenty-two-mile drive to Freightliner.  My need-to-control-this-massive-towing-job-and-yet-avoid-any-more-stress was in overdrive as we followed behind in the Jeep.

My palms oozed sweat as I anticipated each turn, bump, and lane change.     We eventually arrived at Freightliner in Elkton, Maryland, and were greeted by Chris, the Manager who was expecting us.

Assessing the damage

Keith, their top mechanic, was assigned to crawl under AireInn and assess the damage.  After taking eighty-five photos, this Sherlock-Holmes-of-RV-damage found the smoking gun.

Here is a picture of the drive shaft of our radiator fan.

It had sheared off – causing a chain reaction of other parts and belts to snap, crackle, pop, and bounce onto Route 222.

Paperwork Proof

Upon inspection, Keith noted the four lubrication ports on this drive shaft were completely dry.  It was obvious they had not been greased for quite some time because rust had formed on the joints.  Per his request, we presented our maintenance records from the past forty-eight months- proving that AireInn had been regularly serviced every twelve months.

Each of those invoices had “lube completed” checked off!

In fact, just twenty-four days earlier, we had an oil change and lube in Tucson, Arizona at Freightliner.  Armed with our invoices and proof of regular maintenance, we fully expected Freightliner to take responsibility for the costs of our repairs.

No such luck.

Persistence and patience

Initially, Freightliner of Tucson attempted to deny responsibility because the 2016 oil change was at Speedco (and chances are Speedco didn’t grease those joints either).

We persisted.

After a week of phone calls, we politely – but insistently escalated our grievance to the President of the Velocity Vehicle Group (owner of the Freightliner dealer in Tucson).

He listened to our complaint and eventually agreed to cover $4000 of the over $10,000 repair. Gee thanks….but OUCH! And this is where we spent our eight-year wedding anniversary on May 11th. The next night we treated ourselves to the best crab chowder in Maryland at the Chesapeake Inn.  We needed this two-hour respite.  Donuts never hurt

Now it was May 17th when the mechanics at Elkton Freightliner completed our engine repairs.  The manager, Chris, and his team had bent over backward to make our stay as pleasant as possible- and it wasn’t just because we brought them donuts (although donuts are always appreciated!).

Speaking of donuts, I will interject that John and I generally choose to face conflict with honey rather than vinegar.  It has served us well.

As my dear friend Linda Best always says…don’t use naughty words, don’t raise your voice, and all will work out.

It was apparent that customer service was a priority at the Elkton Freightliner.  We cannot say enough good things about Chris and his team of mechanics and are grateful for their professional service.

Thanks, guys!

Back to Bozo

With that work completed, we turned our attention to AireInn’s front end damage.  You probably already read my blow-by-blow account about Chuck-the-Bozo-Wrecker-Driver.

As I mentioned in Part One Lennie, the owner of the tow company, had given his word to pay for damage inflicted by his incompetent driver.  Lennie came through.  He took full responsibility for our front-end damage and worked closely with us to make sure AireInn got the best bodywork available in the area.

John drove AireInn to B & G Auto Body in Newark, Delaware and was greeted by Ed, the shop Foreman.

Little but Mighty

He only stood about five-foot two-inches and maybe weighed a buck-fifteen but this man’s repair reputation towered above his vertical limits.

It was obvious that Ed loved a challenge.

His face lit up as we discussed the details and extent of the damage.  We knew AireInn was in good hands.  Here is a photo of two mechanics inspecting the damage to our generator tray.  

It took B & G about two weeks to complete the work on AireInn’s front end.  The work ended up costing Lennie’s insurance company around $7000.  What did we pay?

Nothing!

An even bigger blessing

Thank you, Lennie, for coming through for us.  Before I sign off I’ve got to share the biggest blessing that came out of this Fall-Out-Mis-Adventure.

You may recall my blog explanation for driving to the Philadelphia area.  My son’s health issues had escalated during the past year and this mama bear needed to be close to him.

Guess what.

Shortly after we arrived,  AND COINCIDENTALLY, the SAME DAY of our breakdown, the electric motor in my son’s recliner BROKE DOWN, necessitating a change in his situation (I won’t share the details) and more help with his care.  Plus, we were now “homeless”.

It was a win-win situation.

My son let us stay in his guest room for almost four weeks while AireInn was getting repaired, and we were able to assist my son with the transition needed for his increased care needs.   Yup.  God is fully present in coincidences.  No doubt in my mind.

FALLOUT take-aways

And THAT, Girlfriends and Guy friends, is the end of my saga…Things I’ve learned from this stranger-than-fiction-story?

  • Laughter helps when my palms are sweating.
  • Linda Best’s advice is true: naughty words get you nowhere.
  • Never underestimate the power of donuts.

Plus…

  • I will ask to see the grease ports heretofore after maintenance appointments.
  • I will always take pictures and copious notes when in a crisis.
  • I will keep ALL paperwork on AireInn’s maintenance.
  • I will always recognize when God shows up in my messes.
  • I won’t count calories when eating Crab Chowder.

Your Turn

Ok.  I shared my story, now it’s your turn.  Please take a moment to share your FALLOUT story with me in the comments below.

That makes you the best subscriber ever!

Your Unlikely RVer,

Gretty

P.S.  Sign up for more crazy stories here.

John and I had a Falling-out, Part 1

Hi, Girlfriends and Guy friends.

What started out to be a routine drive suddenly turned into the worst day in our full-time RV life on the road.

On May 7th, 2018, John and I were returning from Hitchen’s Tire Service in Milford, Delaware and it was around 5 p.m.  We spent the day at Hitchen’s replacing all twelve tires on AireInn (yes, our RV has a name) and the Jeep (her name is Nina).

We were only 27 miles from our destination of Circle M RV Resort in Lancaster, Pennsylvania when “The Fall-out” happened.

Buying 8 new tires

Before I share the harrowing details, I’ll explain why we drove 117 miles to make this tire purchase.

1.  There is no sales tax in the state of Delaware, which saved us around $700 on the cost of these twelve tires.

2,  Hitchen’s Tire Service is a certified member of our Michelin Tire program through the FMCA, which means additional discounts and more $$$ saving.

3.  I’ll gladly endorse Hitchen’s Tire Service.  The owners, Jason and Chum, provided us with swift, professional service.  Additionally, they gracefully tolerated our presence in their warehouse as we documented the “born on date” of each tire.

4. Born on date?  What?  My non-RV friends are thinking we are nutty to replace tires that are only six-years-old.  Actually, the truth is this:  RV tires are made to roll and are healthiest when moving regularly.

Avoiding a blow-out

In the RV lifestyle, we expose our tires to irregular travel- sometimes sitting for three weeks, sometimes driving for two weeks straight. Yes, the tread may show absolutely no wear, but the internal steel belts are constantly reacting to internal and external elements.

The bottom line?  Our rolling home deserves to have healthy tires.  A tire blowout can mean expensive damage to our home not to mention possible harm to those of us who travel in them!   Now back to the Fall-out story… Since we were relatively close to our RV resort, we decided not to hook the tow system to the Jeep and instead I followed behind John in the Jeep.

The Fallout Begins

It turned out to be a wise decision because all of a sudden a large piece of metal bounced in front of the Jeep. I swerved to avoid it thinking it might be road debris.

But then more metal parts started FALLING OUT from the underside of AireInn and onto the highway!  Since we just had new tires installed I wondered if an axle had broken. In that split second, I almost expected to see one of our new tires roll into the ditch.

No sooner did that thought cross my mind when I heard a horrible screeching sound coming from AireInn.  Her 450 Cummins engine was attempting to chug along without several metal components.  John heard it as well and quickly steered onto the shoulder.

After placing orange hazard triangles in front and behind AireInn, we inspected the damage to our engine and embarked on a scavenger hunt to collect the “FALL-OUT”.    I

The Waiting Game Begins

We called Progressive Insurance to report our breakdown not realizing that twenty hours later we would still be stranded on the side of the road.

Tow Company #1

We sat on the side of Rt. 222 in Conowingo, Maryland.  Our Progressive Insurance Roadside Assistance called Tow company #1 but they did not have a Wrecker Truck large enough to accommodate our forty-one thousand pound RV.  Plus they wouldn’t be able to come until 7 a.m.

Scratch them.

Tow Company #2

At 7:30 p.m. the second Tow Company arrived and the driver assured us that he could manage the tow.  As he attached his tow bars and began to lift the rear of AireInn we witnessed the front tires of his Wrecker rise off the pavement.

Umm.  Scratch #2. John and I were told that Tow Company #2 called for their largest Wrecker truck.

Bozo Arrives

Around 9:30 p.m., Chuck, The-Wrecker-Driver-Who-Will-Forthwith-Be-Referred-To-As-The-Bozo arrived.  Even though we showed him the metal inscription on our front frame that read “Do Not Tow from the Front” and his boss even said tow it from the rear, The Bozo insisted. Wrecker Bozo began to lift AireInn, and we heard “CRUNCH!”

Yes.  In less than five seconds time, the massive tow arms popped the frame away from the body, smashed the rails that our generator sits on, and snapped the generator tray release cord.  Bozo’s response to us screaming “STOP!” was “Uh, duh, those rails float and I’ll just pull them down and it’ll be alright.”

Wrong!

Stressed and Tired

We called Bozo’s boss Lennie, the Tow Company owner, who ordered him to leave the scene immediately.  Ten minutes later, Lennie drove up and apologized profusely for Bozo-The-Wrecker.  Lennie also gave us his word to take full financial responsibility for the front end damage.

By now it was around midnight and we got a call from the night shift Roadside Assistance informing us that a flatbed tow truck would be the best way to be transported.  At 2 a.m. she called back saying a flatbed Wrecker would arrive at 7 a.m.

We were exhausted.

Talk of the Town

As we crawled into our comfy king size bed, we lifted prayers of thanks for our safety, but also laughed at the fact that our heads were a mere three feet from speeding traffic!  The next morning it became evident that our stranded AireInn had become gossip in this small community.

For instance, I drove to pick up coffee at a deli, and the clerk knew all about “that gigantic RV in front of Tracy’s house.”  A dog walker named Charles who had stopped by the evening before, knocked on our door to check on us.

Lisa and Emory, a couple in a silver Corvette, stopped by twice to check on us and mentioned that several people at their choir practice had noticed us.

Tracy and her dog Frank came out several times to offer her home, food, and phones.   Now it was 10:30 a.m. and Roadside Assistance called saying that Maryland height restrictions would not allow a coach as tall as ours to be put on a flatbed.

Really?

Way past Darn…

With our patience wearing thin John and I were way past “Oh Darn” and on our way to “Holy Sh*t!!” Just as we were about to lose all hope, an angel named Jack arrived in a pick-up truck.

Angel in a Wrecker

He asked our story and told us to hang on while he made a phone call.  Jack assured us that Bank’s Towing would arrive shortly and would take good care of us.

Having completed his task of saving our sanity, Jack-the-Angel drove off.  Sure enough, around noon Doug, a.k.a. The-Angel-In-A-Banks-Towing-Wrecker showed up with a monster truck.   This professional had no problem hooking up AireInn and towing her twenty-two miles to the Freightliner Dealer in Elkton, Maryland.   Yay!  We were finally heading to a repair shop, but there is so much more to this story…

In my next post, I’ll share with you WHY those parts fell out of our engine compartment and WHO almost did not take the blame.  Plus, I’ll fill you in on how the front-end of AireInn got repaired.